Many of us remember Lehman Brothers from the 2008 financial crisis. But while memories of the spectacular crash of the Wall Street giant into bankruptcy are still fresh in our minds, we tend to forget the story of the rise of the Lehman brothers who set foot in America in the mid-19th century and over the next 150 years grew from a small brick-and-mortar store in Alabama to one of the largest investment banks in the United States.
‘The Lehman Trilogy’, the English adaptation of Italian playwright Stefano Massini’s magnificent play, chronicles the dramatic rags to riches and then back to rags story of the family and company in what can only be described as an epic production.
The over three-hour minimalistic play directed by Sam Mendes is a stunning telling of the story of three Jewish immigrants from Bavaria and their descendants with the economic history of the United States from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression and then the dizzying rise of capitalism before the financial crisis of 2008.
The story of the Lehman brothers is also the story of America and how it was built: Lehman Brothers began with cotton and coffee trading in the south; then went on to finance the railroads and the Panama Canal; rose to become a Wall Street giant, and even financed movies like King Kong. The sweeping story, which stretches across three generations and many cities, is told by three actors who switch from seamlessly from one character to another. As far as theatre goes, ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ is right on the money.